KOLKATA: Sayantani Ghosh, the first transgender to break social taboos in patriarchal Bengali society, got to do it for the second time on Friday. A lawyer by training, Sayantani got to draw the eyes on Durga idols, which till now was done only by male artisans. Called Chokkhu Daan in Bengali, drawing the eyes is one of the most auspicious events of the Durga Puja festivities. It is also the final step before the idol is ready for worship.
Sayantani first drew the eyes of the Durga idol at Jodhpur Park Cultural Association on Mahalaya on Monday. She did it again at Howrah-based Torpedo Welfare Society on Tritiya on Friday.
As a child, Sayantani used to be mocked at whenever she went to her neighbourhood Durga Puja of Sonarpur Recreation Club. She is now the club’s brand ambassador.
“It is an enormous change that I got to witness in my lifetime. Our society is slowing changing for the better. My privilege of drawing the eyes of Lord Durga would instil hope in other transgenders and also make the society more accommodating of us,” she told TNIE.
A lawyer at Alipore District Court, Sayantani also runs a dance school for transgenders in Gangasagar, where Ganga meets the sea. The pilgrimage site also hosts the second largest human congregation in the world after Kumbh Mela, where lakhs of devotees take the holy dip during Makar Sankranti every year. “In many ways, Gangasagar is way ahead than Kolkata. There, transgenders put up dance performances during Durga Puja every year,” she added.
The Sonarpur Recreation Club initially faced a lot of criticism, but its members managed to convince everyone in the locality to make Sayantani the brand ambassador. “Our main motive was to increase acceptance of transgenders in society and social gatherings and also to motivate other transgenders to achieve greater heights in life,” said Sonarpur Recreation Club puja panel treasurer Rajib Bhuniya.